2 posts tagged "Taavo Somer"
Back when he cofounded the original F.S.C. Barber in the back of Freemans Sporting Club on the Lower East Side, Sam Buffa was ahead of the curve on men’s growing grooming fascination. Most guys had a barber; few had one who was still prepared to offer a straight-razor shave or a tin of mustache wax. (Their grandfathers might have.) An empire rose. The original F.S.C. begat offspring in the West Village and San Francisco, and Barber & Supply in Williamsburg. Now, having split with his original partner, Taavo Somer, Buffa has opened the latest link in the chain, Fellow Barber by F.S.C., in Soho. It offers the same cuts, trims, and shaves as the other branches, in the same twenties-vintage barber’s chairs, but with a more pared-down, less urban-lumberjack vibe, and an important new twist: It now stocks an apothecary’s worth of men’s grooming products. “We’re going a little more modern,” Buffa said, gazing at the shelves lined with Malin + Goetz hair products, Geo. F. Trumper fragrances, Japanese Cool Grease pomade, and Santa Maria Novella soaps. “The idea is putting the apothecary on the same level as the barber services.” (The West Village and San Francisco F.S.C. Barber outposts will now go by Fellow Barber as well; the original L.E.S. space will transition to Freemans Sporting Club retail.)
In an earlier, more foolish era, such an emphasis on creams, oils, and unguents might have been branded metrosexual. But more and more, it seems, guys are ready to pay for products that work (and smell) better. “We’ve seen our guy grow with us,” Buffa said. “When we first opened, he shopped at Duane Reade.” Not to be found there: fragrance sprays and incense from the California foragers at Juniper Ridge, Japanese Binchotan-charcoal toothbrushes, and the just-shy-of-parody staples such as Dr. Dittmar mustache wax and Prospector Co. beard oil. In the service of all of these products, Fellow will have a full-time grooming guide to offer guidance and pilot an “essentials” program to note customers’ favorite products and redeliver them, automatically, at agreed-upon intervals. To start, this service will be limited to a ten-block radius only. Yes, almost all of its products are now available for sale on the shop’s Web site, fellowbarber.com. But once the spacious backyard is completed—one that, tantalizingly, connects to the back patio of like-minded neighbors, Saturdays Surf—a visit to the brick-and-mortar pile shouldn’t be too hard a sell.
Fellow Barber is now open at 33 Crosby Street, NYC.
Last fall, Aesop general manager and president for the Americas Giovanni Lepori, told us that the Australian company had plans to re-emphasize its presence in the US after a bit of a “de-emphasis” over the past couple of years. True to his word, the apothecary-style skin, hair, and body care line has done just that—and then some. There are two New York store openings planned for August, one on Elizabeth Street and another on University Place, to be followed by a Bleecker Street flagship later this year. In the meantime, Aesop has set up a pop-up shop in Grand Central terminal’s Graybar Passageway. “The idea was really a handshake,” Lepori told us yesterday when we stopped by the transportation hub to check out the kiosk designed by Jeremy Barbour and made out of 3,000 recycled copies of the New York Times (the Elizabeth Street space will use a reported 1,400 editions of the paper). “This is our introduction to the American customer,” Lepori continued.
On offer at the stand, which will be functional through September and possibly longer, are best-sellers like Aesop’s Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, new releases like its Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, and a special, charitable edition of its Jet-Set Kit made in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation. “It’s only sold here,” Lepori explained of the travel-friendly case that includes miniature bottles of the Gentle Scalp Cleansing Shampoo, Revitalizing Hair Sealing Conditioner, Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser, and Rind Concentrate Body Balm. Also yours with purchase: two tickets to Dia Beacon, the foundation’s gorgeous museum in upstate New York which happens to be a simple train ride away on Metro North. To further add to its local cool cred, Aesop is now stocking its Resurrection Hand Wash in bathrooms at Isa, downtown restaurant impresario Taavo Somer’s new outpost in Williamsburg, as well as Somer’s other hot spots, including Freeman’s Sporting Club and Peels. All aboard.